Leading by example, Boys to Men takes fundraising beyond raising funds for a specific cause. They provide an opportunity to improve an entire community through their efforts and crowdfunding. Craig McClain, Executive Director, had this to say about Boys to Men, a 501c3 mentoring program for at risk boys; “We bring a community of boys and men together to support each other, and by doing so we are able to build a better community. Community, which we are going away from, is so important to our program. Just that one word, community, has so much power.”
On September 19 Boys to Men (BTM) is holding their annual crowdfunding event, 100 Wave Challenge, during which they’ll take inner city kids out surfing. With 175 participants last year and 30,000 emails sent to spread the word about the organization, their supporters are nearly doubling each year. They expect 300 participants this September to join in the fun, each gaining new supporters. The staff appear on television each year to define the mission of Boys to Men to their community, telling about their event, and the specifics as to what BTM does, asking for support. Last year alone their efforts brought them $330,000.
In the San Diego community BTM holds regular in-school meetings at 33 schools during school hours, working closely with school administrators to help at risk boys, 90% of whom are fatherless. They expect they’ll be serving 50 schools within the next year due to their community outreach efforts – in 2009 they were engaged with just one school. Additionally, after- school meetings and evening groups are held weekly and open to all San Diego boys on a voluntary basis. They have created many strong partnerships by this, which alone presents a model for community fundraising for other organizations – schools and nonprofits working together.
Every week Boys to Men mentors show up at middle and high schools to offer boys:
• A community of mentors and role models who listen, encourage and believe in them.
• A community of men who model integrity, accountability, compassion and respect
• A community where boys are empowered to speak their truth, and encouraged to take responsibility for their choices
• A community where boys feel supported, listened to and valued
• A community where boys see their peers are facing similar challenges, and they are NOT ALONE in their struggles.
Joe, 17, came to BTM at the age of 12 in 7th grade. Within a month of joining the program his teachers all noticed an incredible change in him – he had become respectful. He had been seeking negative attention because he felt alone, and instantly had a support group to talk to about his homework, personal struggles, and problems with family and friends. “They don’t tell you what to do, but they lay out options and say they’ll be there to support your choices.”
Joe is graduating from high school early this year and received a scholarship due to his community service efforts. He has helped in the restoration efforts of Lake Helix, and worked on the event setup of The 100 Wave Challenge. “If I had to pick one word about Boys to Men it would be grateful. I don’t know where I’d be without them…for sure I would have dropped out of school.”
During the 2014 100 Wave Challenge Joe raised $4700. He believes that his efforts were so successful because people could tell he was speaking the truth about the program, and that he was genuine in his conversations and what shared on his personal fundraising page. “They saw a living result of the program right there in front of them. I showed them that my heart is in it.”
The profound impact Boys to Men has on their community is evident, and their successful community fundraising efforts allow them to grow each year. The University of San Diego found through a case study that BTM kids have improved self-esteem, a more positive outlook on life and engage in less risk taking behavior. By walking examples of their program and their crowdfunding event they continually spread the word through community fundraising.